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And No Good Thing Ever Dies

Hope is a good thing,
Maybe the best of things.
And no good thing ever dies.
--Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption


The sirens were loud and growing louder. No matter how he covered his ears, the strident blare penetrated his hands and reverberated in his brain. He stood within a wall of sound that wouldn’t be ignored. He began to run, hoping to outrace the wave of deafening noise that threatened to drown his senses. His attempt at escape failed. Heat poured over him, a sheer curtain rippling the air in front of his face, stealing the air from his laboring lungs. The blood boiled in his veins, a river of molten lava that burned him from within. His skin began to sear and crackle. Flesh sloughed away, revealing bone, which charred from white to black in a moment. A light hit him, a brighter light than he had ever withstood, brighter somehow than the noonday sun. The light shone clear and white, yet reds and oranges fluctuated within, a fiery corona inside a flare of magnesium. A scream of terror formed in his throat, soundless beneath the siren’s wail. He stumbled forward blindly, coming to a rest against the exposed brick of a building, which loomed out of the landscape at an odd angle. A door opened and he fell through into the hold of a ship. No, the lobby of a doctor’s office. There was no safety anywhere. The ceiling above him exploded into a hand of blue-white lightning, collapsed, engulfed in a fiery cataclysm that only added intensity to a light already much too bright to explain. He threw himself aside just as the mass of burning timbers crashed to the floor, covering his head as he hit and rolled away. The further he rolled away the closer the fire appeared, until he all but lay in its heart. He covered his eyes, his ears, tucked into a fetal position, as if that would protect against the light, the fire, the sound, the heat, the fire. Burning. He was burning. He was burning. She was burning. The light increased to an impossible intensity. And then blackness, darker than space that blinded more than the light. A terrible silence engulfed him, sudden and all-encompassing, far more deafening in a way than the siren’s wail. Awareness following oblivion.

Ejected forcefully into reality, the dream a dying ember of pain, he opened his eyes and groaned. The grief was a crushing weight on his chest. His arms and legs were heavy, unresponsive. The dream. It had been the dream – again. Every day since Doyle’s sacrifice. One death reminded him of another, many years before, but one which he had felt just as impotent, just as helpless to prevent. Uncurling from fetal position, Angel forced his limbs to do what his sluggish brain demanded of them. The past was the past. He couldn’t change what had happened. He knew that, but that knowledge did nothing to help the despair.

Another great start to the day. Pushing himself to his feet, he staggered to the bathroom, and caught himself against the doorframe. He clung there for a moment, reviewing the dream, examining it. It was the same, but not the same. Stronger somehow, as if there was a connection to some upcoming event. When he noticed the trembling in his hand where it gripped the woodwork, he shook the dream out of his conscious mind. He focused on the door to the bathroom and the shower beyond. The hot water would help.

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